When George Rivera-Davis first tasted coffee from beans grown on his uncle?s farm in Panama, he was amazed?it tasted nothing like the brown liquid he?d been taught to call coffee in Des Moines. Inspired by the delicious brew, he ventured into the coffee business. Now, George and his wife, Jan?herself a certified tea blender?grow their own coffee in Panama with the aid of their family, bringing gourmet brews to Des Moines through their award-winning coffee shop and caf?, Grounds for Celebration. Grounds for Celebration?s coffee connoisseurs roast beans onsite before brewing fresh cups of java, blending espresso creations, and flavoring lattes with Monin syrup and Ghirardelli chocolate. Thirsty patrons can also opt for yerba mate, chai, and smoothies, or venture into Jan?s area of expertise and gulp tea in varieties that range from gunpowder green to ginger peach.
While sipping from steaming mugs, patrons can also munch croissants and cinnamon rolls baked fresh each day. At midday, they fortify themselves for afternoon paperclip jousts with lunch sandwiches, salads, and wraps. Some take their time to savor natural, from-scratch gelato while sitting amid the caf??s local art and connecting devices to free WiFi.
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For 20 years, indoor fun park Planet X has been mesmerizing families with its sheer number of activities. Guests of all ages can zap their least favorite cousins during laser tag, release pent-up road rage in bumper cars, practice their putting on the mini-golf course, challenge themselves to climb a craggy indoor rock wall, and immerse themselves in flashing lights in the expansive arcade room. And those are just a few of the activities at Planet X.
Planet X fuels the merriment with its own Pangea Pizza?made-from-scratch pizzas sprinkled with fresh, hand-sliced toppings?and Full Moon ice cream. This handcrafted, organic-milk ice cream satisfies sweet teeth with more than 24 ultra creamy flavors and nearly 80 toppings.
The fun park hosts sports-team celebrations and church gatherings, holiday and birthday parties, and even corporate team-building activities. Its party space gives patrons a bird?s-eye view of the action.
OK, not your uncle. "Bob's your uncle," a century-old British slang phrase, refers to anyone with a bright future, and if Executive Chef Sal Hnesh's previous endeavors are any indication, this restaurant can most certainly count "Bob" among its kin. Renowned for his pizza, Chef Hnesh, a 20-year veteran of the Iowa City culinary scene, hurls dough sky-high before peppering fresh ingredients across thin, medium-thick, pan, or stuffed-crust pies. The menu oscillates from gourmet pizza to homestyle comfort fare such as wisconsin tuna cakes and roast beef served on gravy-smothered sourdough. Gluten-free options are available, as are housemade desserts and freshly baked slices of apple pie.:m]]
Smashburger isn't just the name—it's the way chefs, otherwise known as Burger Smashers, cook every burger. First, they form never-frozen, 100% Certified Angus Beef into a giant meatball. Then they season it, place it on a butter-glazed grill, and smash it into a patty. The process caramelizes the beef, locking in flavor while keeping the meat juicy and tender. Each slab is then sandwiched in an artisan bun and is turned into one of an array of standard burgers or locally inspired specialties unique to each market.
This handcrafting approach typifies everything else the restaurant does, from blending handspun shakes to hand painting Smashburger's logo onto every beverage cup. Letting its food stand for itself and relying mostly on word of mouth for advertising, the Smashburger franchise expanded from one restaurant in 2007 to 220 today, with its swift growth from zero to 100 stores making it one of the nation's fastest-growing restaurant companies. This rapid development even caught the attention of Forbes and Inc. along the way.
The staff at Orange Leaf Frozen Yogurt strives to bridge the gap between rich, creamy desserts and icy varieties of frozen yogurt with their self-serve offerings. Healthy treats come in more than 60 inventive yogurt flavors, ranging from classic tart and grapefruit to snickerdoodle and white-chocolate raspberry. After guests fill their cups with as many flavors of yogurt as they please, they can load up desserts with fresh fruits, cereals, and Oreo cookies from the expansive self-serve toppings bar or the emergency Oreo pouch attached to their belt.
At El Charro the cooks prepare south- and almost-south-of-the-border flavors for lunch and dinner. Their housemade tortillas fold together to create Mexican favorites like burritos, fajitas, and tacos, while their mesquite wood grill gives a smoky flavor to Tex-Mex dishes. Diners can pair meals filled with shrimp, rib-eye steak, and saut?ed peppers with tableside guacamole, and can cool off their mouths with margaritas or a glass full of rice.